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Emily Needham: Elite 2026 Prospect; RHP/OF; 64 mph Fastball

Birmingham Thunderbolts Organization:

Name: Emily Needham

Hometown: Pike Road, AL

Grad Year: 2026

Travel Team: Birmingham Thunderbolts Premier 2026 - Thompson

High School: Saint James

Pitcher/Outfield

Height-5’6

Bat/Throw-R/R

Pitching Arsenal:

- Fastball {60-64}

- Off Speed/Changeup {40-54)

- Curve {58-60}

- Off Speed Curve {52-55}

- Rise {58-60}

Coaches:

- Bolts: Ryan Thompson

- High School: Mark Hall

- Pitching: Sharon O’Mara and Chris Steiner

Intended Study Major: Undecided

Email-eneedham2026@gmail.com

Twitter @emilyneedham26 Instagram-needham_em


Who are you? My name is Emily Needham. I play basketball, volleyball, and softball for my school and travel softball.


How did your softball journey begin? I started when I was 4 years old. I played in our rec league for 3 years and was always one of the better players. What would have been my second year of 8u I started on a local 10u travel team to see better competition. I met Coach Chris Steiner (Wilcoxson) when I was 8 because her daughter was on my rec team and started pitching with her while she was coaching at Alabama State University.

Emily's first year playing - Spring 2013


All-Stars 2016


You’re considered an elite top prospect for your year group. What do you attribute to your amazing success and achievements? I didn’t rush the process. I played up so I was always one of the youngest on the team. I took pitching lessons for 2 years before I played for a team as a starting pitcher with girls my own age. We lived an hour and a half away but I went to as many practices as I could and worked even harder at home.


As a pitcher, you are alone on an island and often it’s the pitcher’s performance that makes or breaks a game. How do you handle the pressure to succeed? I try to block out the pressure and focus on trying to help my team. I trust my defense and know that if I work for them, they will work for me.

USSSA All American Games 2019


What is your "Go-to pitch" and how do you prepare to go against an elite hitting team? My go-to pitch is my fast ball. I work my counts with movement and off speed but I love blowing a fast ball by someone and hearing the pop of the mitt. Against an elite team, I trust my mechanics and not force the ball. I focus more on spots.


What is your greatest strength as a softball player and why should coaches want you on their team? My attitude. I try to make sure my team mates know how good they are. I want to be their biggest cheerleader and pick them up if they get down.


What kind of hitter are you and what are your most recent offensive stats? When I hit, I hit for power. I had 2 HR this season with a BA of .350 before I injured my leg playing varsity as an 8th grader.

Stars over Georgia Exposure 2021


You’re obviously very busy with so many activities and events in your life. How do you balance your life and manage your time so effectively? My parents help me. Grades are very important to me so I always put that first. I’ve done a lot of studying and homework in the car on the way home from practice. My school is also very supportive. I go in early a lot and take advantage of extra time with my teachers. With softball I’ve worked really hard to get to this point and I know I have to keep working to maintain and get better. My parents have always helped keep balance in my life. They made it a priority to get me to birthday parties and let me be a kid so it didn’t feel like the only thing in my life was softball. Lots of late nights and early mornings.


Describe your gameday mental preparation and your thought process in the circle and batter’s box? I don’t really have a routine, I just try to focus on the game and that my stuff is better than theirs. My goal is to generate grounds balls and easy outs for my defense. In the box I want to move the runners. I use positive talk also, for myself and my teammates.

USA All American Games Oklahoma 2021


What is your favorite sports memory and greatest achievement? I have a couple. In a game this season I was playing left field and robbed a homerun. The temporary fence panel went down with me but I held on to the ball. The first team I played with as a primary pitcher let me pickup with them for a weekend as my tryout. We won that tournament. It felt so good to finally see some results from the work I had put in the prior 2 years. See pic below.

First tournament pitched as referenced above


How do you handle adversity and even failure? I just try to stay calm and use positive talk.


How would your teammates and friends describe you? Loud, friendly, fun to be around, make other people feel good about themselves, and confident.


"Emily is an amazing teammate and fierce competitor. We've played together many years and each time she steps into the circle she's there to battle and always lifts her team with her attitude. Her competitiveness and her great stuff make it tough on opposing hitters"

--- Mia Dunavant, Birmingham Thunderbolts Teammate


"Emily Needham is one of the best athletes to come through the Saint James Softball program. Emily works hard for what she has earns and there is never a day she's not working. Emily is the most dominant pitcher we've had at Saint James in the past 7 years. Even as an 8th grader, she leads our team. With her in the circle, our team is calm, collected and confident for the upcoming game. Emily locates her pitches very well, makes many hitters look crazy with the speed of her change up, and finally her best pitch , curveball. Most of the time it cannot be touched. As a senior, I am so grateful to have met Emily. She pushes me to be a better leader, person and overall athlete. She keeps herself straight on the rubber and works through her toughest challenges. My favorite thing to tell Emily is-Throw it in there, let your defense work, we've got your back. Emily is so dominant not only because she's such a good pitcher but because we give her trust that we can back her up. Emily was one of the greatest things to happen to our softball program and I was blessed beyond measure to get to play two years with her. It is because of Emily that I am confident to play college softball and honestly I wish I could bring Emily with me."

--- Cam Greene, University of South Carolina Aiken



Who is your role-model and or idol and why? Non softball is my parents – biggest supporters, always there for me build me up. For softball Montana Fouts- she’s so good, confident and humble.


If you could spend a day with any softball player, former or current, who would it be and why? Montana Fouts. She seems like such a genuine person. I’ve met her a few times and gotten to see her interact with people and she seems so nice.


Emily and Montana Fouts - 2019


What is your softball dream/goal? I would like to play in college.


Describe your perfect softball team? A team that plays well together and anticipates what the next move will be and plays for each other rather than themselves.

Birmingham Thunderbolts Premier 2026 - Thompson (Fall 2021)


When deciding on what college team to play for what are the most important things you’re looking for? Academics, coaching staff, and current players. A place closer to home.


What gets you hyped or ready before a game? My teammates. We hype each other up with music and cheering.

Saint James Varsity Softball 2022


What is your favorite jersey number and why did you choose it? #00 as it was my mom’s number.


What other hobbies do you have to balance out softball and your personal life? I play basketball and volleyball also. I love riding the golf cart around the neighborhood with my friends and spending time at the pond whether it’s fishing or rescuing the turtles that go over the spillway. And pool.




What bit of advice or mentorship can you share with younger players or others who strive to be as successful as you? Stay humble and keep working no matter how bad things get, softball is something you should be excited for and not feel like a burden. It's a game of failure - got to move on and focus on the next play, it takes time.


Who would you like to thank for your softball achievements and support? My parents. Coaches. I’ve had the opportunity to work with some amazing coaches on and off the field.


What do coaches say about Emily?


"Emily is a one of a kind type kid. I have worked with her since she started pitching at age 8. She is one of the hardest working kids I know and has worked her butt off to get where she is today. She is a super humble kid who has such a bright future. She understands the hard work that is required to be great and she doesn't shy away from doing the extra work and effort it takes to get to the next level. I love Emily for her heart and love of the sport. She is easy to coach and wants to be better everyday. She has a bright and shiny future and I know she will accomplish all her dreams and goals. She is going to be a force at the high school level. Emily is a coaches dream and has all the tools it takes to be successful. She believes in the process and continues to be a great player, teammate and competitor."

--- Coach Chris Steiner

Coach Steiner and Emily



"Emily is an outstanding young student athlete with a tremendous work ethic both on and off the field. A positive attitude and dedication to improve has seen Emily achieve success on the field and her future is very bright"

--- Sharon Omara, Owner All Zones Fastpitch Academy


"Emily Needham is a great softball player but what makes her even better is she is a great kid. Very humble and eager to get better. Her work ethic is unmatched on our team and outworks everyone. So, there is no secret to why she is where she is at this point in her young career. Her velocity (61-64mph) separates her from most but her spin on her curve & rise balls makes her unhittable at times. She has pitched 185.1 innings over her 7th & 8th grade years. Has totaled 232 strikeouts all while keeping an ERA under 2.0. She has pitched against all the good teams along the way. I can see her continuing to improve and getting stronger over the next few years. Her maturity is well beyond her years and she is obviously unbelievably talented."

--- Head Coach Mark Hall, Saint James Varsity Softball



Additional Information About Emily:

Walk up Song: Really, Really/Get Like Me

Favorite Food: Chicken Caesar wraps and steak sandwiches we make at home

Favorite Song: Dirt on my Boots

Favorite Music Artist: Taylor Swift, Olivia Rodrigo, Jon Pardi

Favorite Sports Team: Atlanta Braves

Favorite Sports Celebrity: Monica Abbott

Favorite Sports Movie: The Blind Side

Favorite TV Show: Charmed or Gilmore Girls

Favorite Travel Spot: The Beach

Favorite Quote: “You’ll never regret being kind” --- Nicole Shepherd


Emily Needham, 2026, RHP/OF - Elite Prospect


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